Rev. Karl Hoffmeister — 1857 - 1865

Born in 1819 in Detmold in the principality of Lippe Germany, Hoffmeister was educated at Barmen Missionary School. He performed his first baptism in April 1857.

He realized that every well-regulated organization must have written rules and regulations, and therefore he instituted a written constitution at Bethel Church which was unanimously and harmoniously accepted on August 3, 1857, and signed by 163 members (men). In only 10 years, Bethel congregation had increased from 21 families to more than 150. Bethel became affiliated with the Evangelical Synod of the West (headquartered in St. Louis).

In 1858, the church which had been built with the sweat of the congregation’s brows, donated labor, and extreme sacrifice burned. Since the congregation had outgrown their church, a bigger 40’x60’ building was constructed at a cost of $5000. Only select trees were used for the 40’ beams which were hauled to the site by oxen. During the building of the church, services were held in Heinrich Viehe’s barn located at the south-west corner of the crossroads at the end of the church lane.

Rev. Hoffmeister was known as a brilliant, theological, classical scholar and a splendid organizer. He was paid an annual salary of $400. During his tenure, a brick parochial school was built, the Ladies Aid was formed, and membership increased. He served the people of Bethel well during the troubled time of the Civil War.

Upon leaving Bethel in 1865, Hoffmeister became pastor at St. John’s Evangelical Church in Vincennes. He died in Iowa in 1896.